As humans we tend to group things. Our brains systematically categorize, rate, and even judge whatever or whoever is in front of us at any given moment – assessing the situation for danger or safety, acceptance or rejection, and where we go from here.
Within a matter of seconds, and sometimes even a split second, we clump people and things based on our past experiences and observances – and then we act accordingly.
Usually Our Brains Serve Us
In a surprisingly short time, we make decisions as to whether or not to move forward or retreat. We quickly determine if someone will be our friend or rival, confidante or enemy, collaborator or competitor. And within moments, our prejudices, fears, insecurities and judgments weigh in and our lives take a turn on a dime – unfortunately often based on misconceptions and generalizations.
Why Are We So Quick to Judge?
I recently found myself observing someone make a very harsh statement and rush to judgment about another individual based solely on his nationality. He said something like, “You gotta watch out for those _________.” (Fill in the blank with whatever nationality comes to mind.) He continued, “I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them. I know they’re not all like that but you can’t be too careful.”
I was in disbelief and disgust and I made a comment to the effect that we can’t judge everyone based on their culture or on our experiences with other individuals. I was met with, “Well, I can.”
The Past Does Not Equal the Future
This phrase is a quote from Anthony Robbins, and it can be extended to making snap judgments and generalizations. Just because we have a certain experience with one person, it doesn’t extrapolate to all people of the same nationality, gender, class, size, sexuality… the list goes on. One person does not define a whole group of people.
When we set such limiting beliefs for ourselves, we are limiting our experiences in this world. By not getting to know others as individuals, we set ourselves up for relationships that are not only less interesting, but ones that keep us confined to our ‘comfort zone’, and so we limit our overall growth as individuals.
We Are Each Unique and We are More Alike than We Are Different
Encountering situations with people like I mentioned above has opened my own eyes to my own prejudices and preconceived notions. Even though I think I am open-hearted and loving, and I aspire to see people at the soul level, I know I have been guilty of clumping and generalizing too. I can look back and see how this way of thinking has limited my life experiences.
I am willing to open myself to the possibility that I can free my mind of judgment while still maintaining a discerning mindset. As a perfectly flawed woman, I am open to see the flaws of others as individuals and forgive them along the way if they have judged me – perhaps unfairly clumping me into a group to which I don’t really belong.
We Are All One
These words haunt me a little bit right now, because I don’t want to admit that I am one with the individual I wrote about earlier who was so harsh a judge based on close-minded, bigoted thinking, and yet, I know it is the truth. We ARE all one and we ARE more alike than we are different.
At the same time, we are all unique and singular individuals. I celebrate our similarities and our differences. I know we are all brought together in this life experience for a reason that may be beyond our current grasp of understanding. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can all be clumped into a singular category as children of God. I take comfort in this knowing, and I strive to open myself to all that is.
I Invite You to Dwell in this Knowing and Openness too
With lots of soul love for you, Sue